Multivitamins for the Older Population

JANUARY 01, 2007
Yvette C. Terrie, BSPharm, RPh

As individuals age, their nutritional needs change as well. Since many seniors take prescription medications for various disease states, there is often the potential for drug-nutrient interactions, thus increasing the need for vitamin supplementation for some individuals. Currently, there are a variety of multivitamin products that are formulated to address the specific dietary needs of individuals 50 and older. These multivitamin supplements may include higher levels of calcium, folic acid, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin B6, and other nutrients—but not iron, since individuals 50 and older require less iron and generally meet their iron needs through diet alone. Examples of these multivitamin supplements are included in the Table.

Before recommending any vitamin supplements to a patient, pharmacists should assess the patient's medical history and medication profile to determine if there is a potential for a drug-nutrient interaction. It is also important for pharmacists to remind patients to take only the recommended dosages of these supplements, as well as to stress the importance of adhering to a balanced diet. Pharmacists also can refer patients to registered dietitians when warranted.

Ms. Terrie is a clinical pharmacy writer based in Haymarket, Va.